A unified system to facilitate sharing of genomic and clinical data among cancer researchers was launched by the US National Institutes of Health.
The Genomic Data Commons (GDC) will centralize, standardize and facilitate access to large-scale programs of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), such as The Cancer Genome Atlas -- which has mapped important genetic mutations for 33 types of cancer -- as well as its pediatric equivalent, Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments.
‘The Genomic Data Commons will allow sharing of genomic and clinical data between researchers and also add their results to the database.
TCGA and TARGET represent some of the largest databases on cancer genomics, with more than two petabytes of data, or the equivalent of 446,000 DVDs.
Part of the National Cancer Moonshot and Precision Medicine initiatives, the new data platform has a budget of $70 million.
Vice President Joe Biden -- who leads Cancer Moonshot -- launched the GDC operations center at the University of Chicago during a visit on Monday, the NIH said in a statement.
Biden, who also addressed the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting in Chicago, has played a public role in the fight against cancer since the death of his son Beau from a brain tumor last year.
Data in the GDC will be harmonized to make it accessible to all cancer researchers, who will also be able to add their results to the database.
"These datasets will lead to a much deeper understanding of which therapies are most effective for individual cancer patients" and accelerate the effectiveness of precision medicine, said Louis Staudt, director of the NCI's Center for Cancer Genomics.
Precision medicine is aimed at treating patients according to their individual genes as well as their lifestyles and the environments in which they live.
After almost a century of growth, cancer death rates fell by 23 percent between 1991 and 2012 because of the sharp decline of smoking combined with better treatment and earlier detection, the American Cancer Society says.
Obama announced the Cancer Moonshot initiative in January, aiming to double the pace of cancer research for the next five years.